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Frugal Bookstore, Rich With Black Literature, Sees Business Boom

BOSTON (CBS) - At first glance Frugal Bookstore may seem quiet. But stay a while and you'll notice phones ringing off the hook, customers picking up orders curbside and owner Leonard Egerton busy at the helm.

"95% of the books we carry are by authors of color," Egerton said.

Business is booming at Boston's only black-owned bookstore. In the last two weeks, orders have skyrocketed, especially for titles exploring racial justice. Books like "How To Be An Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi and "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo are on back-order.

Frugal Bookstore
Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury (WBZ-TV)

Egerton says publishers are scrambling to print, he's expecting a shipment by the end of June.

"It just kept multiplying, until there was hundreds of orders in one day. [Then] there was thousands of orders in a couple of days," said Egerton. "It's beyond our wildest dreams that we would sell that many books."

Egerton and his wife Clarissa call the overwhelming demand "a good problem to have." Just weeks prior, they were dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Fearing the business could fold, he created a GoFundMe page.

"It was really scary not knowing how will I be able to help take care of my family or take care of our expenses at the bookstore," Egerton said. "A lot of people donated because they saw a tweet. We're so thankful. It has helped us stay in business."

One of the tweets was posted by Dr. Kim Parker, a literacy organizer, and longtime Frugal customer. With more than 17,000 followers, on Twitter alone, her reach on social media guided readers back to Roxbury.

"As much as I could, I just let people know that all the books that you want, you don't have to buy on Amazon. You can buy here locally," Parker said. "It was just sort of the right time. People had a heightened sense of awareness. They wanted to read books by black folks, they wanted to be intentional about where there money went."

And that intention is what Egerton hopes drives this moment into a movement.

"I'm hoping that this is a time that when people really want to take a good look at what's happening in this country," Egerton said. "If it doesn't turn into some time of change. I think it would be all for naught."

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